Openly gay Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon is being hailed as a hero for refusing to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, whom he accused of "funding gay conversion therapy," despite Pence's repeated efforts to respond to Rippon's claims and clear the air.
USA Today called the interaction a "bizarre battle," and implied that Pence is locked in a feud with an Olympic athlete, even though it seems it's Rippon who would prefer to stand by an incorrect statement rather than sit down with the high profile official he's accused — wrongly, according to Pence's office — of supporting a horrific practice involving electroshock therapy.
Vice President Pence is scheduled to lead the American Olympic delegation, but Rippon has refused to interact at all with the official Administration team, citing what appears to be an urban legend.
“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it,” Rippon told reporters when Pence was announced as the administration's choice for top Olympic delegate.
Pence's office reportedly balked at the statement, and issued an immediate rebuttal, telling USA Today that “The Vice President is proud to lead the U.S. delegation to the Olympics and support America’s incredible athletes," and that "this accusation is totally false and has no basis in fact. Despite these misinformed claims, the vice president will be enthusiastically supporting all the U.S. athletes competing next month in Pyeongchang.”
The Veep's office even, it seems, reached out to Rippon in an effort to smooth things over.
"[Pence] was so concerned about the criticism he received from U.S. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon that his staff went to the extraordinary length of asking the U.S. Olympic Committee to set up a conversation between the two — an offer Rippon turned down," USA Today reported, hailing Rippon as "not backing down" on Twitter.
Two sources close to Rippon confirmed that the skater had refused to sit down with the vice president. He has also refused to attend the traditional meet-and-greet between the athletes and the official Olympic delegation.
“If it were before my event, I would absolutely not go out of my way to meet somebody who I felt has gone out of their way to not only show that they aren’t a friend of a gay person but that they think that they’re sick,” Rippon said. “I wouldn’t go out of my way to meet somebody like that."
Rippon's claims are, apparently, based on a rumor that circulated during the 2016 presidential campaign that, while running for Congress, Pence supported — and even suggested funding — "gay conversion therapy," a strange idea from Evangelical circles in the early 2000s that claimed homosexuality could be "cured" by inpatient psychological treatment, and sometimes included electroshock therapy.
But even Snopes admits that Pence's website doesn't make any claims of conversion therapy efficacy, nor does it say the vice president supports anything remotely in line with electroshock therapy.
Congress should support the reauthorization of the Ryan White Care Act only after completion of an audit to ensure that federal dollars were no longer being given to organizations that celebrate and encourage the types of behaviors that facilitate the spreading of the HIV virus. Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.
The theory is that Pence's use of the term "change their sexual behavior" is a "dog whistle" to those who support "shocking the gay away," but even left-leaning media sources were never able to provide proof of the claim, relying instead on what they seem to believe is Pence's blanket hatred for gay people to fill in the blanks.